DE Aldon Smith
As was the case last weekend, since it’s the weekend you will get a double dose of mock draft analysis. Earlier today, I posted what I think the Detroit Lions will do at No. 13, and now it’s time to see what the St. Louis Rams will do with the next pick, No. 14.
The addition of Sam Bradford pushed the Rams in 2010 from a team that many thought would be among the league’s worst to one that almost made the playoffs. They still have a long way to go before they make any waves leaguewide, but at least they have the benefit of playing in a horrid NFC West, where mediocrity reigns supreme.
The Rams would love to walk away from this draft by adding another offensive playmaker to employ beside Sam Bradford. But with potentially limited options, I think they may wind up taking a quality defender like Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith with their top pick.
OT Tyron Smith
Since they dumped GM Matt Millen two years ago, the Lions have done a good job of adding young pieces to build for the future. Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and Ndamukong Suh form the core of their team and they need to continue to add more pieces and playmakers to supplement those guys going forward.
They have several areas on their roster that need addressing, but I think they wind up shoring up their offensive line with a player like USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith with their top selection. But the Lions should have a variety of options to look at when the thirteenth pick rolls around.
DT Corey Liuget
The Minnesota Vikings can thank Brett Favre for them having such a high pick, but for a team that was only a year ago in the NFC Championship game, this may prove to be a saving grace for them. As they may be able to snag the caliber of playmaker with the twelfth overall pick that they wouldn’t normally get with a late first round pick. And I think that playmaker will be Illinois defensive tackle Corey LIuget.
Now picking twelfth in the draft means that the Vikings are likely to be the first team in this draft that cannot count on any of the “Big 11″ players being available to them. If you don’t know what I’m referring to with that term, I’m talking about the eleven players in this draft that I see as being locks to go in the Top 15. They are essentially the eleven premier players in this draft that a consensus has formed and solidified that they are all excellent values at the top of this draft. Those eleven players are the two quarterbacks (Newton & Gabbert), wideouts (Green & Jones), defensive ends (Bowers & Quinn), defensive tackles (Dareus & Fairley), linebacker (Miller), and pair of corners (Amukamara & Peterson).
If any of those Big 11 have the potential to slip to Minnesota it will likely be Cam Newton, Prince Amukamara, or Julio Jones. If that were the case, in all three instances I think the Vikings would jump on them. Especially Newton.
CB Prince Amukamara
The top ten picks are done, and it’s time to move onto the Houston Texans, who pick eleventh in this draft.
Houston is looking for those final pieces than can turn them from an also ran into a playoff team for the first time in franchise history. They came off what was a promising 2009 season, and struggled in 2010 namely because their defense tanked.
The main reason for that tank was because of atrocious secondary play. They thought they wouldn’t lose much by not re-signing Dunta Robinson, and they were wrong. And to make up for that mistake, I think they will select Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara with their top selection.
WR Julio Jones
With the tenth pick, the Washington Redskins are now on the clock and have some decisions to make.
The Redskins are in a tough situation under Mike Shanahan. Clearly the talent level on the team suggests they should be undergoing a rebuilding process, but the ownership has absolutely no patience for that. So Shanahan is stuck between a rock and hard place, where he needs to make significant and sweeping upgrades to the talent of the roster, but also maintain a level of competition that keeps the team in the playoff hunt.
It’s going to be tough sledding for the Redskins to do with this top pick and other choices in this draft, since arguably this pick and draft class that the Redskins add will make or break whether Shanahan is a two-year wonder in D.C. or whether he can finally get that team turned around in the Snyder Era. I think that pick that they will sell to Redskins fan base is Alabama’s Julio Jones.
DL Marcell Dareus
It’s time now to discuss the Dallas Cowboys and their ninth overall pick and what they may do with it.
The Cowboys are the one team picking in the Top 10 that should not be here. By all measures, they were a team with Super Bowl aspirations a year ago, and are now picking at the top of the draft. But this type of situation doesn’t have to be that negative, as a similar thing happened to the 2003 Pittsburgh Steelers. They managed to snag Ben Roethlisberger with their eleventh overall pick, and immediately returned to being contenders with a Lombardi trophy two years later.
If the Cowboys play their cards right, a similar thing can happen to them. The right pick can quickly swing the pendulum back upwards for them. And I think the pick that could make that happen is Alabama’s Marcell Dareus.
WR A.J. Green
Almost done with the top ten picks, it’s time for the Tennessee Titans to get on the clock with the ninth overall pick. Just as a recap, here’s the order to the picks so far. And you can click on the links to read the appropriate articles:
1. Carolina – QB Blaine Gabbert
2. Denver – CB Patrick Peterson
3. Buffalo – QB Cam Newton
4. Cincinnati – DT Nick Fairley
5. Arizona – LB Von Miller
6. Cleveland – DE Da’Quan Bowers
7. San Francisco – DE Robert Quinn
So the Titans are on the clock, with only a few of what I would term to be the “Big 11″ left on the clock. These would be the eleven players that are virtual locks to be selected in the Top 15 picks, but obviously what order they go in is in some dispute. Among those players still left on the board for the Titans to pilfer through are Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, his teammate Julio Jones, his fellow wideout from Georgia in A.J. Green, and cornerback Prince Amukamara of Nebraska. And it’s likely that the Titans will pick from among those four when they choose eighth overall to get the best player available. And in the end I think that will be A.J. Green. As usual, continue to read on if you want to know why Green will be a Titan instead of other options.
It’s time for the second primer of today as earlier I posted my thoughts on where the Cleveland Browns will go with the sixth overall pick. It’s time to move on to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 7.
The 49ers are sitting at a point in the draft, where they probably don’t really control their own destiny. Depending on which players go ahead of them will primarily determine which position they address.
But in the end, I think they will settle on a pass rusher such as North Carolina’s Robert Quinn to help solidify their defense.
The 49ers have their fair share of needs, first and foremost is their quarterback position. While new head coach JIm Harbaugh has been praising Alex Smith in recent weeks, the 49ers know that he is not their long-term option. Smith is good enough to keep the seat warm for a year or so for another player, but Harbaugh knows that in order for him to be successful as an NFL coach, he’s going to have to find a stud, young quarterback at some point like his brother did in Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
DE Da'Quan Bowers
Yesterday, there was a double dose of mock draft primers with the Bengals picking DT Nick Fairley and the Cardinals taking LB Von Miller. Today, I’ll bring you both the Browns pick at No. 6 and the 49ers at No. 7. But let’s start with the Cleveland Browns who hold the 6th pick.
The good thing for Cleveland is that new GMs Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert seem to have the team going in the right direction. QB Colt McCoy was better than most as a rookie. Peyton Hillis had a strong season, their defense performed well anchored by a better than expected linebacking corps and secondary. Despite picking sixth in this year’s draft, there is room for optimism going forward in Cleveland.
And it’ll be key for the Browns to secure the best player with this pick to continue that upward direction. I think they’ll wind up selecting Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers with their top pick.
OLB Von Miller
Since it’s Saturday, it’s time for a double dose of teams, so I’ve decided to proceed with my assessment of the fifth pick in this year’s draft with the Arizona Cardinals.
If you still haven’t caught up, I’ve explained exactly why the Panthers will take Blaine Gabbert No. 1 overall, the Broncos will think snatch up Patrick Peterson, Buffalo will fall in love with Cam Newton, and earlier today why Cincinnati will settle for Nick Fairley with the first four picks of the 2011 draft.
With the fifth pick, I think the Cardinals will target Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller. Again, if that’s all you care about you can stop reading now. But if you care to understand why the Cardinals will go for Miller or which other prospects the Cardinals will look hard at, keep on reading.